Publishers: Grab control of your data

Lauren Pedersen is vice president of global marketing for Cxense

When it leaked last month, The New York Times Innovation Report highlighting the paper’s woes in the digital arena shot through the publishing industry. By most accounts, The New York Times has a rather compelling digital presence, so if its site is feeling growing pains, it follows that less-venerable publishers with fewer resources are feeling them, too.

Here’s why: Publishers have focused too little on fully controlling and acting upon their audience data to maintain the best relationship with their audience and grow their digital revenue.

In one telling comment captured in The Times’ 96-page report, a Huffington Post executive reportedly told The Times’ digital task force about how HuffPost editors watched while sites aggregated – and subsequently outperformed — The Times’ original story on Nelson Mandela’s death. They did so by monitoring how site visitors interact with their content and making adjustments to get the right content in front of the right users at the right time.

The HuffPost’s editor reportedly told The Times it should “defend the digital pickpockets from stealing your stuff with better headlines, better social.”

For most publishers, the story is even simpler: Their primary pain points revolve around the loss of revenue from their ad content and audience data. In their rush to monetize their digital sites, publishers have allowed third parties like Google, Outbrain and Taboola to access their content and site visitor data for very little return.

Over time, more and more publishers have become acutely aware that their efforts in providing great content and building relationships with readers and other site visitors are being undermined by third parties who take that data and make money from it. To achieve greater control over the digital value chain, publishers can build content delivery networks that are independent of third-party networks. These networks can enable pure content distribution to improve the user experience while increasing traffic and monetization through targeted ads. Content distribution can be deployed on sites belonging to the same publisher, keeping more of their revenues in-house.

It’s time publishers take a stand and evict the third parties who take their audience data or even news articles from their sites. Data management platforms can help publishers regain control, while also helping them understand their visitors and the kinds of content they want.

These tools are finally putting publishers back in the driver’s seat.